There are some ways to integrate technology in your classroom that adds value to your learning environment and pretty much can be a go to no matter what the lesson plan. Here are my favorites no matter what grade level you might teach.
Allowing students to find information on a topic by themselves allows them to delve deeper into areas that appeal to them. It also allows them to be in charge of the path of their learning no matter how "locked down" the requirements for the lesson are. Most school systems have access to online research databases that are grade-based helpful. Teaching students how to curate all the information on the internet is no easy task but placing good research options in their path helps. Using digital encyclopedias and search engines like http://kiddle.co for younger students can help.
Showing older students how to use the Google search engine tools (http://mashable.com/2011/11/24/google-search-infographic/#0vBxYjxrxsqb)as well as how to use your library's digital learning databases are important steps to preparing our students to learn how to find quality information with ease.
This article talks about the benefits of mind mapping: http://mindmapsunleashed.com/the-mind-mapping-concept-and-how-you-benefit-from-this. There are many free or almost free websites and apps that allow students the beauty of gathering their thoughts on a topic in a systematic way. Apps like Popplet and Simple Mind+ and websites like www.mindmeister.com allow students the ability to creatively make connections to ideas, discern important points, as well as map outlines for papers. Mind mapping has also often shown a benefit to recall as well.
My favorite way to collaborate is using GAFE (Google Apps for Education), specifically Google Docs so that students can collaborate on writing projects through the use of multiple users on one document or even just allowing collaboration on a document by the adding of comments for reflection. There are also options like Padlet, Google hangouts, Skype, blogging, and the discussion boards of your school's LMS options that either allow students the ability to connect with each other or the world beyond the four walls of their classroom.
For years teachers have used whiteboards for quick formative assessment to see if daily learning objectives have been met. Today, we have websites and apps like A Web Whiteboard, Explain Everything, ShowMe, and EduCreations that can be used to give students personal access to content. Digital whiteboard options also are a great tool to allow students to use at the end of a class to show their learning for the day as well. Finish your lesson, tell the students to open their Digital Whiteboard and say "create a file that shows me the top three things you learned today in class," or "Create a math problem using the formula we used today and solve the problem." The possibilities are endless.
Technology is a great way to aid students in studying. Digital flashcard makers like Quizlet and word cloud creators like Wordle are a great way for students to reinforce spelling and vocabulary terms. Khan Academy, ck12.org, and other online options as simple as youtube offer your students additional support in studying for exams or refreshers for homework.
The options for integrating technology into the classroom are endless and the creative ability to what a teacher hopes to accomplish is turning more dreams into reality every day. Technology often affords the teacher extra time to have more one on one opportunities with their students as well as supporting the learning environment in very concrete substantive ways that didn't exist a decade ago. The above 5 options could easily be adapted and adopted in any classroom to reap the benefits of technology in our schools and to equip our students for the world beyond their academic life.
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